Matt: What’s going on everybody? This is Matt with Project Unbroken, and today I’m going to tell you the three most important things you can do right now to make this whole recovery process a lot easier for you. So these three things I neglected to use early on in my recovery. I neglected to take a lot of good advice that I got early on in my recovery, and it just drug out the whole process to me feeling better faster. These three things are what I wish I could kind of turn back time and start off a lot earlier. I would have saved myself a lot of hassle if I listened to this advice.
Matt: And as addicts, I think that we have a tendency to take the long path to figure out things on our own, and maybe a lot of times to not listen to what other people have to say, but I’m hoping that you might take some of these things to heart because honestly, truly, if I could go back, I would have shaved off years of the process from addict to maintenance program to clean to successful to happy. I could have … I skipped a lot of these steps with a few simple daily habits, and there’s three of them. I’ll start, and this is the one that Greg and I don’t talk as much about, but we both agree is vital for us to be performing, to be thinking, to be behaving as optimally as we possibly can, and this is really important when it comes to your recovery.
Matt: As you know, when we’re in recovery or in transition from some sort of substance that we are not able to manage our lives on, like heroin to a maintenance program, or from heroin to just going straight to trying to get clean, or a maintenance program to coming off of everything, there’s a big transition. There’s a lot of stressful situations, and I neglected to listen to this advice because I thought, honestly, that it was bullshit, and that is nutrition. So before you end this video and say like, “All right, this is bullshit. I’m withdrawing. You’re going to tell me to clean up my diet,” we have to kind of look and see exactly what’s going on with our diet.
Matt: So when we think about ingesting anything, whether it’s a substance like heroin or it’s a food, honestly, everything weighs on our system and the way we feel. It’s either good or bad, honestly. I think it’s very black and white. What I didn’t understand early on in my recovery is how important the gut is, and when I say gut, I mean the entire digestive system, your gut bacteria, your gut biome. I didn’t understand how important and imperative that was to the way that we think and feel. So I didn’t know that 80% of the serotonin that we produce is stored in the gut. That is huge. Serotonin is the feel good, happy hormone that makes us, allows us, to be happy. If you’re hijacking your gut bacteria by eating pro-inflammatory foods like sugar or stuff that’s fried in oils that are overly processed and just not good for you, you’re not even going to be able to feel as good as you can if you’re doing other things right.
Matt: So for me, for instance, I started exercising because I was like, hey, this is a good way for me to boost dopamine, serotonin, endorphins. I knew this was a real thing, and I still believe in that wholeheartedly, but if I’m not eating right or if I’m not creating the right flora in my gut for serotonin to be produced and to be stored effectively, forget it. I can do whatever I want to do, and I’m still not going to be able to have the hormones necessary for me to feel happy, let alone content or at ease.
Matt: So I’m a huge believer in this. Honestly, I didn’t listen to it at first. I really wish I did. I didn’t find out how imperative nutrition was to the way that I think and feel and the energy I have throughout the day until it was down the road a little bit. And like a lot of you guys, what I was suffering from and my biggest obstacles in my recovery from heroin to suboxone and from suboxone to just off of everything was depression and anxiety. I struggled with it really, really hard, and I truly believe that that didn’t start to get better until I started to improve my diet, which allowed for me to have my system in the right place for me to really take advantage of the serotonin that was being produced and stored in my body.
Matt: So I notice a lot of time like in a lot of rehabilitation centers, and just in the recovery community in general, I think there’s this overwhelming or sense that you’re overcoming something so like, hey, you should allow yourself to smoke cigarettes and eat like shit, and that’s not the case. Don’t fall for that trap at all, because it’s not going to help you out. I don’t think that that’s the way that we should reward ourselves. That is not self-care. That’s not taking care of yourself at all, and it’s because what we put into our bodies has a really dramatic effect on the way that we think and feel, and we need that to be optimal for when we’re in any process of our recovery, whether you’re just starting or you’ve been in recovery for years now and you haven’t had any relapses. Either way, we need our minds to work as well as they possibly can, so nutrition is number one.
Matt: Number two, and we don’t really talk about this at all, but it is equally as important as nutrition in my mind, and that’s stress management. What is stress management? It’s a lot of things. When we think about stress, especially when it comes to recovery, honest to God, and you guys know this. When we already have a lot on our plate from trying to stay clean, trying to stay off whatever we’re on, working our way through the system, whether it’s a maintenance program or you’re in a 12 step program, there’s a lot of stress. We have the weight of the world on our shoulders. A lot of us have kids, we have families, we have loved ones. We know they’re concerned about us. We’re concerned about towing the weight and doing everything we need to do at home, and then you’ve got this huge issue that’s kind of just floating around somewhere right here in our minds, and that’s addiction.
Matt: So when we come up against stressful situations, it’s we already have that weight vest on us, so we need to kind of come up with strategies to learn how to deal with stressful situations, to learn how to decompress after rough days without turning to a substance like we’re used to doing, and allowing us to kind of let all that stuff go. For me, a really big one was … It’s guided meditation. So I listened to this guided meditation, and I’ll pull it up on my phone. Actually, you know what? Better yet, I’ll put a link in the description to the one that I used.
Matt: But I use this guided meditation, and it was for success, I think it was. I’ll have to dig around and find it, but I listened to it every night before bed for 30 days. I would listen to it during the day when I had time, and it was just really, for me, it was just a really great way to unwind and to get out of my head, essentially, to kind of clear my mind, to get all the thoughts that are running around and picking up speed and causing me to be anxious. This guided meditation really helped me slow down my breathing, slow down my thoughts, put things in perspective a little bit, and it ran for about … I think the meditation was about 20 minutes or so, and for those 20 minutes I was able to almost hit the pause button on all the chaos that was running through my life and reset, and I could come back, and literally everything was better.
Matt: I think that there’s not enough of this going on in the recovery community. There’s not enough talk about this. So I’ll say right off the bat, I can’t do … Personally, I have a really tough time just doing like regular meditation where you sit and focus on your breathing and try not to think, essentially. I have a tough time with that. I’m thinking about work. I’m thinking about my family. I’m thinking about friends, finances. Like there’s just always something pops into my head. But with a guided meditation, it was really cool because it was I put the headphones on, and it would literally step by step say like, “All right, I want you to …” you know, whatever, count to 10 this way and then count to 10 this way and think about your breathing. I was just listening to the directions, and 20 minutes into it I felt like a brand new person.
Matt: This really helped me kind of slow down in my day-to-day life, and it’s just, it’s been invaluable for me because I still go to it, especially in times that are highly stressful. I’ll pop that on before bed, or if I get a little break between appointments, I’ll pop it on, and it just brings me back down to baseline, and just really effective. I can feel it in the way that I talk to my clients or that I talk to my wife or my daughter. I’m just more present. Everything slowed down. I can kind of … I’m listening to the conversation. I’m there in the moment, instead of worrying about work or thinking about what else is going on. This really, really helps me in a lot of ways. And again, I’ve been using this for like going on almost 10 years now, and it’s helped me in more ways than one.
Matt: So you can get apps now. You can download stuff off of iTunes. I’m going to link a couple examples to this because this is one … And they’re free. There’s no whatever. It’s a free download. You can even find stuff on YouTube you can just listen to and just turn it on and hit play. It’s very, very, very effective.
Matt: And then the third thing, you guys already probably know what this is going to be, and it’s exercise. It’s just that like you have to do it. I know it kind of sucks when you’re working your way out of addiction. I know that I was super out of shape. I was smoking a ton of cigarettes. I was drinking. I was doing heroin. I was a mess. My body was a mess. But if you’re not getting that work in, your brain’s not going to be performing the way that it’s supposed to be performing, and this runs a lot in line with nutrition. When we exercise, our body creates a lot of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin production, all that stuff is vital to making you be happy, feel good, feel satisfied, feel like you’re doing something, accomplishing something. When we don’t have that, we’re not feeling the way that we’re supposed to be feeling. I think we look for an outside source to help kind of fill that void, and that’s not what we want to do.
Matt: If you put these three things together, diet, stress management through … For me, personally, it was guided meditation, or it could be yoga or something like that … and exercise. If you put those three together, you will be amazed at how good you’ll feel really quickly. So let me kind of go back to exercise for a second. You don’t need a very specific exercise routine or program when you’re first getting started. You just need to move. Honest to God, pushups, sit ups, and air squats, it’s all you need. Just do them. I don’t care what you … Like I don’t care how many you do. Every day when you get out of bed, like tomorrow when you get out of bed, make yourself do 10 pushups, 10 air squats, 10 sit ups. That’s it. That should not take you more than two, three minutes tops, and that’s if you’re really not doing anything physical at all and you’re really going slow. It should not take any more than two minutes.
Matt: All right, let that be day one: 10 pushups, 10 air squats, 10 sit ups. Then maybe tomorrow do 12, 12, 12. Then do that for a week. Do 12, 12, and 12 every day when you get up for a week. You will see how amazing it is, and how quickly we get strong and we feel better. Like you’ll start to notice … I’m not kidding. With just a little bit of exercise, two minutes of exercise, you’ll start to notice a difference. Our bodies adapt so quickly, it’s just, it’s incredible how fast you’ll be able to do more volume and do more pushups and sit ups and more air squats.
Matt: Then you’ll get to a point where maybe you want to reach out for some sort of personal trainer or online coaching or something like that, whatever. Go to a gym, go to a CrossFit gym, go to a yoga studio. You have to do this for your mind to be behaving the way it’s supposed to behave, so please utilize that.
Matt: So a quick recap. Three things you can start today to start feeling better. Nutrition. Make this real simple. Meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, a little bit of starch, no sugar, you’re fine. That’s all you need. All right? Don’t complicate it. Lots of vegetables, lots of meat, lots of healthy fats, you’ll be fine. All right, you will feel fantastic. Mindfulness, stress management. Get on YouTube or check out these links. I’ll post some links. Just get a guided meditation to help you kind of calm your mind down. Get a guided meditation. You can get them specifically for addiction. You can get them specifically for success or confidence. Anything you can think of. You can get them to sleep better, whatever it is, whatever you want to work on. Just get something to slow your mind down.
Matt: And third, and most importantly, or just as important as the other two, exercise. Push ups, sit ups, air squats, start there. Don’t make it complicated. Don’t try to run a marathon tomorrow. Just start somewhere. Do 10, 10, and 10 every day for the next week. Then 12, 12, 12; 15, 15, 15. You’re going to get stronger, but more importantly, your mind’s going to just feel better. All right? Your heart’s going to beat a little bit. You’ll feel the blood coursing through your veins. You’ll feel alive. That’s what we’re looking for.
Matt: So I’m going to leave it there. I went a little longer than I wanted to on this, but those three things guys, please, like just give it a shot because I promise you it’s going to make it feel better. I waited probably a year and a half into my recovery before I started kicking those things in. Everything got exponentially better a lot faster. If you start those earlier off in your recovery, excuse me, you will not regret it. I promise you it’ll make everything easier for down the road.
Matt: So thanks for watching. Do me a favor, hit that subscribe button. Greg and I are trying to get a lot of videos out there. We’re trying to spread the word. Share this thing. We love all the feedback we’re getting from you guys. The comment sections are blowing up, and it’s hard for us to get back to everybody, but we’re doing our best, and we really, really appreciate all the feedback.
Matt: If you guys want to hear more about diet, you want to hear more about exercise, or just other things that we’ve done to help us in our recovery, leave us a comment, all right? Or hit us up on our website projectunbroken.com. We are starting to get some traction here guys, and that’s all thanks to you. We really appreciate you guys watching our videos and getting back to us, and we always want this thing to be a two way street, want it to be a conversation. So keep it coming. Please help us, teach us what we can help you with, and we’ll give you whatever we know, whatever that is. So thank you again for everything, guys. Look forward to talking to you soon. Have a great day. See ya.